Monday,18 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1233, (12 - 18 February 2015)
Monday,18 December, 2017
Issue 1233, (12 - 18 February 2015)

Ahram Weekly

The Elephants rumble

Ivory Coast snatched the Africa Cup of Nations title after beating Ghana on penalties. Abeer Anwar reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The Elephants’ star was goalkeeper Boubacar Barry who not only blocked a number of penalty kicks but was able to put the final touch, scoring the decisive goal as Ivory Coast won 9-8 on penalties, thus ending a 23-year Africa Cup of Nations title drought after the final on Sunday ended goalless 0-0 following extra time.

Before scoring, Barry had pushed away a penalty kick from Ghana goalkeeper Razak Braimah. Ivory Coast were victorious despite losing a number of penalty shots at the beginning with the first kick from Wilfried Bony hitting the crossbar and Junior Tallo dismissing the second spot kick wide.

The Elephants repeated the same scenario of 1992 when they edged the Ghanaians on penalty kicks after a goalless draw.

According to history, this is the fourth final in the last eight versions of the cup to finish goalless and be settled through penalty kicks.

Commenting on the victory, Cote d’Ivoire midfielder and captain Yaya Toure said, “I cannot express my happiness. When you win a title with your club, it is amazing but with your country, it is unbelievable. I have been dreaming of this moment throughout my eight years in the national team. I have been waiting for this moment. We failed twice in 2006 and 2012 but we succeeded this time. I’m very delighted and I want to thank all who has inspired and motivated us.”

On the other hand, Herve Renard, the Elephants head coach: “I’m lucky to win twice on penalties. I am very happy for this team. The ‘never give up’ spirit in the team was the most important factor.”

Security measures were increased for Cup of Nations final after crowd violence interrupted Thursday’s second semi-final. The match, which saw Ghana beat hosts Equatorial Guinea 3-0, was stopped for 30 minutes as home supporters threw missiles onto the pitch.

“We have re-coordinated with the security people to make sure key points that were maybe a bit loose in previous matches are better secured,” said CAF general secretary Hicham El Amrani to BBC Sport. “We have a higher number of security people but the most important thing is the head of state addressed the nation to call them to come peacefully and celebrate what their country has done by organising this tournament.”

The CAF Executive Committee meeting in Malabo, held alongside the 30th edition of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations took action on the refusal of Morocco to host this competition as scheduled as agreed from 17 January to 8 February 2015.

It announced that according to the provisions of Articles 7.1.a, 23.11 and 62 of the Statutes of CAF and in accordance with Article 41 of the Application of the Statutes of CAF regulations and according to Article 92.4 of the competition rules and the terms of the Framework Agreement signed for the Orange AFCON 2015, the CAF Executive Committee decided to suspend the national team of Morocco from the next two editions of the Africa Cup of Nations, 2017 and 2019, and to impose on the federation the regulatory fine of $1 million.

The CAF Executive Committee decided by a separate measure to be borne by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation the sum of 8.05 million euros in compensation for all material damage sustained by CAF, stakeholders and partners as a result of the decision not to host AFCON 2015.

Also a fine of $5,000 was imposed on the Tunisian federation after the match Tunisia vs Guinea Equatorial for the behaviour of fans of the host country. The Organising Committee dealt with the behaviour of Wadie Jary, president of the Tunisian Football Federation, during the match between Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea and decided to suspend with immediate effect Jary from all activities related to CAF until he submits a letter of apology or presented a letter with irrefutable, tangible evidence to substantiate claims of CAF bias against the Tunisian team.

The committee took note of the suspended sentence and also decided to give the Tunisian Football Federation until 31 March 2015 to comply with the recommendations of the Disciplinary Panel and the organising committee, otherwise the Executive Committee of CAF will disqualify the Tunisian national team from the next edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2017.

Nour Elddin Al-Bouchati, Morocco’s national team manager, commented on the penalties against Morocco: “I was astonished with the CAF decision. We thought as Hayatou said that it will be only a financial pan but not related to sports. I think that this decision is completely unfair.”

Mohamed Maqrouf, official spokesman of the Moroccan Royal University for football, added, “We will resort to all legal tools to defend our case and to defend the Moroccan national team that will be greatly affected by such a ban.”

Hassan Ben Eibasha, Moroccan Olympic team head coach, said the CAF decision was harsh and unexpected. “It will stop all our plans for the coming four years and the Moroccan fans will be deprived of cheering their national team for four years. It’s so much.”

Moroccan defender Mohamed Olhaj was dejected after the penalties describing the decision as being unfair and biased.

On the other hand, Tunisian Youth and Sports Minister Saber Buatti was quoted in an interview with a Tunisia newspaper addressing all North African countries: Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, to take a unified stand towards the CAF and its president, Eissa Hayatou, by withdrawing from the CAF and forming a lobby to push Hayatou to reconsider his decisions towards North African countries “as he is always biased to the West Africans ones.” He also added that Tunisia is thinking really to withdraw from the CAF and concentrate on the local league and cup tournaments.

Commenting on the penalties and the chaos that marred the semi-finals match, Ayman Abu Ayeid, a sports journalist and head of the sports section at the daily Al-Ahram, said, “I think this is the end of Eissa Hayatou. His decisions towards the North African countries, Morocco and Tunisia, and what happened during the semi-finals is more than enough to kick him out of the African Football Confederation (CAF). The decision that he took against both Tunisia and Morocco were just to paper over the severe attacks that African football faced due to the chaos and disorganisation at the semis. In my opinion Hayatou is over as he is attacked from inside and outside the CAF. He insisted on giving the ANC to a country, Equatorial Guinea, which was not ready to host such an African event.”

In the third-place play-off, DR Congo beat Equatorial Guinea 4-2 on penalties in a match that was proceeded without trouble, in contrast to the semi-final between Ghana and Equatorial Guinea, won by Ghana.

In the match at least 36 people were injured following the incidents that marred the game. “It was like a war zone,” the Ghana Football Association (GFA) tweeted, claiming “barbaric acts of vandalism” while its president told the press it was lucky no-one was killed.

All the injured were supported and attended to on site. A total of 14 were transferred to hospital units for further investigations with one case requiring close monitoring.  

Players ducked bottles thrown from the stands, Ghana fans sought safety behind a goal, riot police used tear gas and a helicopter hovered over the stadium.

GFA president Kwesi Nyantakyi blamed Equatorial Guinea supporters for “unprovoked violent attacks” inside the stadium.

The Disciplinary Panel of CAF, meeting in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, reviewed the reports of match officials following the incidents that marred the match between Ghana and Equatorial Guinea and decided to have the Equatorial Guinean party cover the cost of treatment of all injured persons during the match, to impose on the Equatorial Guinean Federation a fine of $100,000 for aggressive behaviour and being repeat offenders, to have the team of Equatorial Guinea play their next game behind closed doors/in camera and without spectators.

However, to promote a spirit of fair play and brotherhood during the AFCON2015, the Disciplinary Panel decided to suspend the match behind closed doors provided that spectators were not guilty of such an offense in the 3rd/4th place classification match.  

On the other hand, the Africa Cup of Nations reached its 1,500th goal milestone during the semi-final clash between Ghana and hosts Equatorial Guinea. The 1,500th goal was scored by Ghana midfielder Mubarak Wakaso, his side’s second goal against the hosts.

Former Nigeria midfielder, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha scored the 1,000th goal of the Africa Cup of Nations at the 2004 edition during the group phase meeting with South Africa on 31 January 2004 at the Mustapha Ben Jannet Stadium in Monastir. Okocha scored the second goal in the 4-0 win against the South Africans.

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